Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Guitar Whisperer

I am very late in reporting in on a wonderful music showcase I saw a few weeks ago at the Tin Angel. I’d like to give a full rundown of each act, but I’m afraid I have to give short shrift to most of them.

I can only mention in passing Karen and Amy Jones, a sister-folksinger act with opera-trained voices, whom I’ve seen a few times (and rumor has it, are gradually percolating a song with me). And I have to leave you with scant impressions of the local Americana artist Lee Morgan, with whom I spent a few hours on my birthday last year as he performed at Lickety Split. Lee’s harmonica work and soulful vocals are worth experiencing, even for those who don’t usually take to the “Americana” sound.

I’ll briefly mention Kursten Bouton, a soulful singer songwriter who straddles that difficult chasm between bright and moody, and has a new CD you should preview at her MySpace.

And I’d like to spend more time looking into David W, a music promoter who put the evening of ‘emerging artists” together. David has been on the Philly music scene for many years; he’s visually impaired but his ears are preternaturally alert. I had noticed all the acts above before, and had mentally noted that they had something special going on, but David is the one who not only noticed, but found a way to bring them all together and cross-pollinate their audience.

No, the person who not only delighted but floored me was Christie Lenée, who was the only act I hadn’t seen before.

She was a Guitar Whisperer. She knew things about the instrument deep in her bones, deep in her soul. She made it sing, she made it dance and she made it sit up and beg. Most guitarists have a few favorite positions to hold it – adjusting it slightly when there’s a difficult reach. But Christie played it in several ways, crouching, sitting, holding it on her lap.

Philly is a great, great music town. It doesn’t take much to realize that, from the long list of music venues, from NJ to the western suburbs, to just stopping in and hearing what’s going on. You see a lot of talent --- the baseline is pretty high. And you learn to expect and demand a level of excellence

But during one of Christie’s guitar solos (one of two extended ones in her set) incredulity began to set in. jaw slowly, so slowly dropping, until I frantically had to text a friend (the first time I have ever texted mid-act, to say Holy #%^ could this girl play.

Christie, while performing on her own, has just taken up the lead guitar position in my friend AlyCat’s band, and watching them together – Aly on the bass, Christie on the guitar, with their blended voices – is a treat. Search them out when they’re playing (and listen for the song “Officially” which I co-wrote with Aly).

Truly. She loves that guitar, and it loves her back.